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Noblesville seeks to expand planning jurisdiction

May 29, 2015

The city of Noblesville is proposing expanding its zoning jurisdiction in preparation for future growth and possible annexation of new property.

Noblesville planning officials met with some of the 110 affected residents Thursday to discuss details of the plan to incorporate several pieces of property along the western and southwestern portions of unincorporated Wayne Township into the city planning and zoning code.

The current jurisdictional lines split some property between the city’s planning area and the county’s jurisdiction. The buffer that once separated city property and rural countryside has disappeared. Most of the 3.4 square miles in question falls south of State Road 38 near Middletown Avenue and Olio Road.

Assistant planning director Andy Wert said the city limits look like Swiss cheese due to annexation.

“That is not good economy for anyone,” Hamilton County Commissioner Steve Dillinger said, explaining that county plows have to go to some of these pockets of unincorporated land, and the sheriff's department must make runs to any non-city areas.

Property owners would be able to keep their current zoning regulations, as the city would absorb the county’s guidelines. Property taxes, school districts and road maintenance would not change for residents, since their properties would not be annexed into city limits--at least, not yet.

The biggest change would be that property owners wishing to receive a variance for a non-permitted use will need to address Noblesville instead of the county.

Noblesville Planning Director Christy Langley told residents that no developers have come forward with projects for the area, and that new projects likely would end up being high-end housing, not multi-family units.

Nevertheless, residents were skeptical. They expressed concern about not being able to vote on the issue. And because they still wouldn't be residents of Noblesville, they wouldn't be able to elect Noblesville officials crafting future zoning regulations.

Dillinger said he thought the city absorbing the zoning control could be beneficial, so there would be city regulations in place for inevitable future developments. He said the city isn’t forcing annexation on the property owners now, but, in the long run, that’s likely where the area is headed.

“You’re gonna be annexed,” Dillinger said. “I promise you that.”

The exact proposal has not been drafted yet, Langley said. City officials wanted to first compile resident feedback.

The Noblesville Plan Commission and Noblesville City Council could discuss the request in the fall. The council could choose to expand its zoning jurisdiction to the targeted property without the consent of residents.

Dillinger asked the residents to meet as a group to discuss the issue so they could at least present the council with their preference.

“Be realistic about it,” Dillinger said.

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